Art 💙🏳️‍🌈

Ambulances & Programming

Training, Always

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It’s been almost a month since I wrote my last post about having been asked to start training someone. It’s been a month that’s absolutely flown by. This one is less a post and more a collection of thoughts that training has given me.

training development
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The Next Generation

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I found out at the end of my last shift that starting next week, I’ll be training up a new call handler. That means taking someone coming into the control room for the first time, someone taking on something that’s not quite like any other job, and building them up from almost scratch to be a fully-fledged call handler. And thinking about that on my way home, my overriding thought was not trepidation or nervousness or even pride — it was simply of what a privilege that is.

training career
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What to Do: Unconscious

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You’ve found someone unconscious. You’re not sure what’s happened. It could be a family member at home; it could be a perfect stranger in the street. Either way, they may need medical help — and if you’re the only one there, you’re the only one who can get it for them. What do you do?

what-to-do
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Building Railator & Pathfinder

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A while ago, I built Railator, for fun and to give me a chance to learn a few new things. It’s a very simple progressive web app that pulls train data from National Rail APIs and presents it. Much more recently, I added Pathfinder to it, which is a London-only tool to find paths (duh, really?) between any two given tram, DLR, tube, overground, or some rail stations. Again, this was mostly for fun and because it might help me learn a few more things, but I did have some ideas about how it could end up being real-world helpful for me. It turned out to be way more complicated than I was expecting.

node.js vue.js ruby
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Why We Do It

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Content note: mentions of suicide, serious injury, domestic violence, neonatal death

When I was writing my last post, I was feeling a bit down and fed up after a run of shifts where not much happened, taking lots of non-emergency, low-acuity calls. This post is the complete opposite: this shift gave me a reminder of why we do what we do — because we save lives and help people.

This is the story of a shift where everything happened.

success-stories
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Do we really help?

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My last couple of weeks at work haven’t had anything really out of the ordinary in them. It’s been a very ordinary run of chest pains, back pains, abdominal pains, breathing problems, bleeding, and passed-out drunk people. It’s left me thinking about impostor syndrome — something I come across both as a developer and now as a 999 call handler — and, more widely, about something I’m calling organisational self-importance syndrome: how the ambulance service often likes to think of itself as the people swooping in to save the day. It’s not the only kind of organisation guilty of that, but there’s something about being an emergency service that seems to give it that kind of air.

impostor-syndrome
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Public Access

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Public-access lifesaving equipment is not a new idea: life rings by lakes and rivers are a very common sight, as are (to a lesser extent) things like throw lines and public SOS telephones. That said, awareness of and access to public-access defibrillators is still relatively new in comparison, and it’s really only the last few years that we’ve seen any kind of rise in awareness and availability. Even newer than that are other types of public-access lifesaving kits that we’re only just starting to see: things like trauma kits, first aid kits, etc.

first-aid public-access
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Nothing Special, Everything Special

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When it comes to politics, I make no apologies for being a staunch lefty. I support people being individuals, with the rights to live however suits them. My outlook is very much that if you’re not hurting anyone, why should anyone mind? When it comes to healthcare, I’m eternally grateful for the NHS and I always struggle to understand why the US allows its healthcare system to be so broken.

Now that I work in the NHS, I’ve had the advantage of seeing it as both patient and provider. With the government’s recent 1% pay rise announcement — much touted by them as very generous in times of austerity and simultaneously condemned by the public as a shameful display of national gratitude to a service that has carried us through the pandemic — I find myself conflicted. As a patient and a member of the public, the NHS is incredible. As a provider, I find it more complicated.

nhs covid-19
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Trust the Uniform

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The recent disappearance, later confirmed to be abduction and murder, of Sarah Everard in London has thrown me. It threw me early on, just after she’d been reported missing, before anyone knew it was a murder; the confirmation that it was murder (and that the suspect is a serving police officer, no less) only made things worse. I don’t really know why — there’s nothing really unusual about this case (other than the serving-police-officer thing, but even that’s not unheard of) — but much of the UK seems to be feeling something similar.

trust safety abuse
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The Ones We Remember

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Content note: trauma, graphic description

“What’s the worst call you’ve ever had?”

Don’t be that person. I’ll give you one of my pre-prepared Funny Calls™, and then be very wary of ever talking to you about my job again. The honest answer is the one that’ll leave you wondering if I’ve lost my mind and all sense of normality, and how I’m still doing the job. It’s the same for everyone in the emergency services.

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